Tom Williams along with his wife Lauren and son James are seen in this undated handout photo. Tom Williams is a British expat who has been living and working for about five years in Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei province in China. His wife Lauren, who is from Langley, B.C., is about 35 weeks pregnant, he said in a telephone interview from Wuhan. He also has a two-and-a-half-year-old son, James, who was born in White Rock, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Tom Williams *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Feds preparing plane to fly Canadians out of Wuhan, once China gives OK

160 Canadians have asked for help to leave province at centre of coronavirus outbreak

Canada has a plane preparing to fly Canadians out of the province in China at the centre of an outbreak of a new coronavirus, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday.

The next step is to secure co-operation from China to assist the 160 Canadians who have requested help, Champagne said. Not all of them want to leave, he emphasized in an appearance on Parliament Hill.

China has all but sealed off one of its central provinces where the novel coronavirus was first detected. The virus causes respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold, but it can be deadly in very severe cases.

At Champagne’s side, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government still has to decide what will happen with the Canadians who leave China, so as to prevent any spread of the illness.

Champagne said Canada is working with allies to co-ordinate plans and make the logistics work, and that could take some time yet.

Some other countries have promised similar help for their citizens stuck in the province of Hubei — particularly those that have diplomatic offices there, which Canada does not — and Champagne said Canada isn’t far behind them.

“The only plane which has landed is a U.S. plane that was scheduled to be there,” Champagne said, which was then followed by a plane sent by Japan earlier Wednesday.

A teacher who is living with his pregnant Canadian wife and child in a city that is the epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak had been hoping to get out of the country on a British flight.

Tom Williams is hoping to get his wife, Lauren, who is about 35 weeks pregnant, out of Wuhan, the Hubei city that has been essentially locked down with the emergence of the disease. The couple also has a two-and-a-half-year-old son, James, who is Canadian.

READ MORE: Family hopes Britain can get pregnant B.C. woman out of coronavirus epicentre in China

Williams is a British expat and his wife and son are from Langley.

“We’re just currently waiting to hear confirmation whether we’ve got space on the British flight,” Williams told The Canadian Press in a FaceTime interview from China on Wednesday, before Champagne’s announcement.

The family received a call from officials in Ottawa earlier this week, who asked permission to share his wife’s file with the British Embassy, he said.

“We have some stuff laid out in case it’s a last-minute departure.”

The virus has killed 132 people and infected more than 6,000 on the Chinese mainland and abroad.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, will brief MPs on the Commons health committee Wednesday afternoon.

At least 250 Canadians have registered with Global Affairs Canada to say they are in Wuhan, said Champagne, who added that officials are trying to contact everyone to assess their needs.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley Farmers’ Market set for online shopping

An online store will complement the market and is set to start taking orders soon.

Comox Valley Food Bank set to reopen

The organization closed last week due to concerns around COVID-19

Comox Valley centre offering free online meditation and mindfulness teachings

The Comox Valley has a well-kept secret in the Sherab Chamma Tibetan… Continue reading

VIDEO: Courtenay residential community offers nightly balcony salute to frontline workers

Residents of The Tides in Courtenay gathered, social distancing intact, to salute… Continue reading

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

Duncan man asks community to donate RVs to essential workers in need of quarantine

Ryan Oakley creates a Facebook group to help coordinate the effort

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

Comox Valley Beefs & Bouquets switches to ‘Only Bouquets’

We are all in need of positive reinforcement; send us your cheerful notes

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

Most Read